From climate change and the rise of artificial intelligence to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s leaders face a multitude of challenges when it comes to adapting to the constantly changing landscape of the modern world. Therefore, it comes to no surprise that resilience has emerged as a critical quality for leaders to possess. In Change Institue’s latest webinar "Building Personal Resilience for Change and Uncertainty", change specialist and founder of Twist Consultants Jo Twiselton, highlighted the importance of cultivating personal resilience and how showing self-compassion can make better leaders and healthier organizations.
The ability to bounce back from setbacks and adapt to new challenges is essential for steering organizations through the storm of constant change. More often than not, changes within organizations are met with resistance and apprehension. By being resilient, leaders can work through the changes with their teams and make the experience more positive as they emerge on the other side. Resilient leaders provide clarity and structure amidst uncertainty, adapt quickly to bumps on the road, and know how to maintain equilibrium. Furthermore, they display emotional intelligence and empathy, allowing them to listen more attentively and respond more effectively to their team's needs. As Jo ascertained through her extensive experience in managing organizational change, it is not organizations that undergo transformations in times of change, but rather the people within them, one by one. A leader can facilitate these changes, coach teams through transformation, and build a sustainable and healthy organization only when they themselves are resilient.
Resilience as a concept can be quite complex and may mean different things to different people and organizations depending on the context and the situational environment. At its core, resilience refers to one’s capacity to adapt, learn from experiences, and maintain stability while moving forward. Moreover, resilience is actively working on shifting focus from perceiving changes as threats to recognizing the potential opportunities they present.
Being resilient feels empowering. It instills a sense of confidence in one's ability to adapt, to understand one’s own personal responses in the face of adversity, to identify what works for oneself, and the ability to determine what resources are needed to adapt and the knowledge of acquiring them. When an individual is resilient, they feel capable of navigating challenging situations, drawing lessons from their experiences, and growing stronger as a result.
When it comes to building a resilience toolkit, Jo emphasized that leaders must not add to their already long list of daily tasks but rather find ways that can work in their schedule and not create too much pressure. Drawing from the concept of Atomic Habits by James Clear, which suggests that it takes 66 days to form a habit, leaders should focus on dedicating sustained effort over those 66 days to develop one habit at a time, rather than adding more tasks that add more pressure.
In the webinar, Jo highlighted a number of tools that leaders can incorporate into their daily habits. To mention a few, she recommended writing things down to help make sense of things and give clarity to situations. Address negative self-talk by talking out loud or imagining those words being said to a friend. Using the Circle of Influence and Control (adapted from Stephen Covey) to reassess situations. Finally, to understand one’s motivation by using the S.P.A.C.E.S. method by Hilary Scarlett to steer the brain in the reward state rather than the stress or fight or flight state.
Jo emphasized the importance of self-awareness and reflection, encouraging leaders to regularly assess their own strengths, weaknesses, and emotional reactions to different situations. By understanding one's own triggers and responses, leaders can develop a more robust ability to navigate challenges and uncertainty. The webinar also touched on the significance of self-care and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Jo urged leaders to prioritize their well-being, incorporating regular exercise, proper nutrition, and mindfulness practices into their daily routines. By doing so, they create a strong foundation for resilience and the ability to withstand stressful situations.
Energy management is a crucial aspect of resilience and productivity, particularly as remote work becomes increasingly prevalent. The need for 'life' balance has never been more vital, as leaders navigate the blurred lines between their professional and personal lives. By engaging in self-awareness exercises, leaders can optimize their energy levels, ensuring they operate at their best and maintain the stamina required for success. This involves determining the best times and conditions for efficient work, identifying energizing foods, staying hydrated, pacing oneself, and taking regular breaks throughout the day. By understanding what drains their energy, leaders can make informed decisions about task prioritization, delegation, and establishing clear boundaries between work and personal life, ultimately creating an environment where both personal and professional growth can thrive.
As leaders face an unprecedented array of challenges, traditional methods of dealing with change are no longer sufficient. Organizations that solely focus on the bottom line without considering their impact on the environment and the well-being of their people risk losing the talent needed for long-term success. Leaders, therefore, have a unique opportunity to be positive role models, promoting well-being and resilience within their teams by cultivating their own sense of psychological safety and personal resilience. By investing in their own growth, leaders not only benefit themselves but also create a ripple effect that positively impacts their teams and organizations. In a world where change, uncertainty, and crisis are inevitable, leaders must embrace a mindset of continuous growth, learning, adapting, and always being ready to ask for help when necessary. By doing so, they can build resilient organizations capable of thriving in the face of constant challenges and change.
To gain deeper insights on the topic, watch the full-length webinar here.
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